Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badgers open Big Ten season with 41-10 victory over Boilermakers


In the opening game of its Big Ten season, the Wisconsin football team stormed past Purdue 41-10 as running back Melvin Gordon continued to dominate in the running game.

The redshirt sophomore ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns Saturday afternoon against the Boilermakers (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten), improving to 12.9 yards-per-carry on the season for the Badgers (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten).

For head coach Gary Andersen, his team came out with the right amount of energy and fury, hoping UW would use the controversial loss at Arizona State the weekend before as fuel heading into the Big Ten season.


“Did I want them to be mad?  Yeah, I did.  I think that should carry them for a long, long time.  That should give them a little chip on their shoulder that hopefully carries them as we continue forward,” Andersen said. “We should want to practice a little harder, work a little harder, play a little harder, prepare a little harder and apparently they did a nice job of that this week.”

UW, led by redshirt sophomore Joel Stave, came out slow in its opening drive, but quickly found success with Gordon in the backfield. Starting on its own five-yard line, Wisconsin marched down the field with a combination of rushes from Gordon and connections by Stave with his go-to receiver, redshirt senior Jared Abbredaris. Gordon found his way to the endzone on a five-yard carry to put the Badger up 7-0 with 4:25 left in the first quarter.

“It is kind of just reaction, you are just kind of playing. My coach always tells me, because I think too much at times at practice and with everything. My coach tells me `just run,’ that’s all he tells me, `just run,’” Gordon said.

Fellow running back James White, would not be outdone by Gordon’s performance. The senior tailback exploded past a cloud of Boilermaker defensemen for a 70-yard touchdown run, giving UW a 14-point lead to begin the second quarter.

Though it appeared Wisconsin was in control of the game, Purdue would not be knocked out without a fight. The Boilermakers answered White’s touchdown with one of their own. Senior quarterback Rob Henry took command, rushing for 22 yards into the end zone, closing the lead to just one score.

The following drive, All-Conference cornerback Ricardo Allen picked off Stave — his third interception of the season — on the Wisconsin 37 yard-line and returned it 27 yards , sending the Purdue offense back on the field looking to tie up the game.

However, the Wisconsin defensive unit shut down Henry and his offense, forcing the Boilermakers to kick a field goal to bring them within four points with 9:44 remaining in the first half.

While the touchdown run by Henry was a clear letdown for the UW defense — who had yet to give up a score on home turf this season — Andersen was impressed with the way his defense managed to hold Purdue to only field goal with little rest between drives.

“[Purdue] gets a nice drive together and have a broken play for the touchdown and then they get a pick and we’re right back out on the field,” Andersen said.  “[The defense] bowed up in that situation, and I was proud of them.”

The field goal would be the last score for Purdue in the game, as the Wisconsin rushers were just getting warmed up.

Gordon rushed for his second touchdown of the game finding a gap in the middle of the field that left him nearly untouched in his 27-yard dash to the end zone.

After holding the Purdue offense to negative yardage on the next drive, Wisconsin finished the half up 24-10 from a 32-yard field goal by redshirt junior Kyle French.

The second half built upon the first as Gordon and freshman Corey Clement each tallied a touchdown rush, and the Wisconsin defense allowed Purdue just 85 total offensive yards in the second half.

Following Gordon’s third and final touchdown run and a 27-yard field goal, Clement entered the game to close out the third quarter with a 39-yard carry to the 5 yard-line and completed the drive to open the forth quarter and give Wisconsin its final score of the game.

Purdue made a late-game drive to a first-and-goal situation, but a pass interference call forced Purdue back. A series of downs later, freshman cornerback Sojourn Shelton picked off Henry on the goal line to seal a second-half  shutout for the defense.

“It was very important. Our coaches stressed that they didn’t want [Purdue] to score anymore, so I was just trying to make a play,” Shelton said. “The defense overall, [especially] they guys up front, they caused [the interception]. I give them all the credit.”

While the Wisconsin running game was on fire, UW struggled to connect passes throughout the game, amounting just 158 total passing yards. Late in the third quarter Stave missed a wide-open Abbredaris down field, a pass the two had been solid on throughout the preseason.

Stave finished the game with 12 for 19, without a touchdown completion before sixth-year senior Curt Phillips took over late in the fourth quarter.

Saturday’s game also marked Andersen debut in the Big Ten. The coach walks away with his first Big Ten win under his belt.

“Exciting for myself, selfishly, to be involved in a Big Ten game for the first time.  It’s something special out there, as you all know.  But I’ve never had that opportunity until today,” Andersen said. “So it’s a memory I’ll cherish for a long time.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *